Growing your small business is not as easy as you think – and it is not as easy as just throwing money back into it. Most often the way your business needs to grow is by adding team members to manage the operations and service your customers. Housing all your employees in one place is no longer necessary in business. These days the jobs done by your staff can be done remotely.
A great deal of small business owners avoid the thought of managing a virtualized workforce out of fear of losing the ability to track employee workflow and progress. But with the right guidelines and tools, that doesn’t have to be a concern. As a small business owner, you just need to establish your company’s core values and have clear and frequent communications with staffers. It’s easy to streamline workflow between onsite and remote employees.
So how does it work? You, as the small business owner, just need to put the plan in place and set up the guidelines. Sounds like a big job, but it does not have to be if you make it a process that is followed with every new remote hire.
The first step in making a remote worker fit is to get him or her comfortable with your company and your company goals and mission. Because of not needing extra office space or office furniture, a remote team can be set up quickly and easily at little to no cost. But having remote workers visit head office on a regular basis can keep them up with changes, and also give you a chance to watch them at work in person.
If you business is a retail outlet or you have a lot of personal contact with customers, you could consider opening another location to grow your business. It is not always easy to open a second location, but it can be if you have the business plan and management team to take care of the first location, while you are getting the second location up and running. This is especially true if your goal is franchise future locations. When you sell a franchise, you are selling your processes and procedures, so your second location has to be working first using those same procedures.
Before considering franchising your business, you might want to think about licensing your product or brand to other businesses. This can be an effective, low-cost growth strategy, particularly if you have a process service product or branded product. Before you reach out to potential licensees, be sure to have all your documents and agreements drawn up by a lawyer who specializes in intellectual property matters. A good legal document can save you a lot of hassles down the road and it will also minimize the risk of losing control over your product or branded service.
If franchising or licensing your product or service in a second location is not an option, consider product diversification. This means selling other products that are complimentary to yours. They could be your own new products or ones that you can buy wholesale and sell it alongside yours. For example, if you make and sell custom bicycles online, you might also want to sell bicycle helmets, locks, lights and other accessories that people need when they buy a bicycle. That example was a little simplistic, but check out how online retailers will suggest other complimentary products and add-ons when you are looking at a particular item.
There are other ways you can diversify your brand and your customer base – you just have to think of novel and efficient ways to do it. Back to the bicycle example. You could hold clinics and classes on bicycle maintenance and repair. You could offer a free clinic about basic repair to attract customers into paying for more extensive repair classes. Now you are seen as not only a maker, but as an expert. When diversifying, choose the right product or strategy that will not take your focus off of your core business. The only reason to take your focus off of you primary core, is if the diversification becomes more profitable and helps you grow even faster.
Another way to grow your business fast is to acquire or merge with a competitor or a company in your supply chain. If one of your competitors or supply chain partners is thinking of retiring or is in financial trouble, you might consider buying his or her assets and customer list. Piggybacking on an existing customer base can be a lot easier than trying to build a new one. This can be especially beneficial if the company you acquire or merge with has a completely different customer base than you currently have.